How to enjoy the best of Tribal Chhattisgarh in India.
Do you dream as Marc, a Canadian anthropologist, to discover some preserved and friendly tribes in an offbeat place of India?
If the answer is yes, Tribal Chhattisgarh, especially Bastar District, is for you !
These are some suggestions for your visit, my contacts, my firm-favourite and a suggested itinerary to prepare your trip and realise your dream.
This is an ingredient of the #Tribal #food of #Bastar. It's both natural, healthy and have a lot of good effects for the body. Guess what it is. Hint: each time I go to Bastar I try some but my #Indian friends are often too afraid to do the same 😀 It's also delicious prepared as a #chutney. #windowonthetribes
Do you have any visit suggestions, advice, firm favourites in Tribal Chhattisgarh to share?
I’ve read you have developed a beautiful relationship with Tribal Chhattisgarh.
I’d like to go there at the end of February.
Do you have some visit suggestions, advice or firm favourites to share?
I don’t think it’s possible to avoid Raipur.
Is there a better area to stay for one or two nights?
A guesthouse you recommend?
I should arrive in Raipur with the train from Delhi.
My plan is to reach Jagdalpur by bus.
Rest is unknown!”
Thanks for your attention.
Firm-favourites, contacts and local transportation in Tribal Chhattisgarh
That’s right: I totally fell in love with Tribal Chhattisgarh, especially Bastar.
About Raipur, I can’t help you. The first time I arrived by train from Odisha. The second time, Chhattisgarh Tourism Board offered me a fam trip and I left Raipur to Sirpur on the day of my arrival. I didn’t really appreciate the town.
If I were you, I’ll directly go to Bastar. But you’ll certainly need a night in Raipur if you spend so much time on the train.
About my firm favourites : Bastar of course!
Awesh told me about Fagun Madai in Dantewada in February. He absolutely wants me to discover this festival, so I’m sure it’s a fantastic one as he exactly knows what I love.
Otherwise, from Jagdalpur, it’s very easy to go to Chitrakoot waterfalls, in Kanger Valley (Tirathgarh falls, national park), and in some villages for the tribal markets : Lohandiguda, Tokapal…
Shakeel knows it very well.
His village, Nangoor, also has a magnificent tribal market.
You can read about Bastar here : How Bastar Tribal people gave my life a new exciting perspective.
Best place to stay and travel from in Bastar, guides
“Of course if I can avoid Raipur I will do it.
I assume a stop in Sirpur worth it?
Bastar is a region, right?
Which place is the best to go around Bastar. Jagdalpur?
About your contacts, how does it work ? How much it costs?”
Sirpur is a nice place to stop.
But if you have a short time in Tribal Chhattisgarh, you should focus on Bastar, especially because with the local transportations it will make you return to Sirpur before going to Jagdalpur.
Bastar is the southernmost district of Chhattisgarh.
The best place to go around is Jagdalpur, except if you spend a few days in Nangoor with Shakeel.
About Shakeel, I met him before my first trip. He’s a friend. He also works as a guide and I know his prices are honest (one of my friends spent several days with him and was very satisfied). He lives in a tribal village in a traditional mud house and proposes his guests to stay at home.
About Awesh, he also became a friend. I met him for the first time in 2012 but we didn’t have time to talk. I don’t know his prices.
Actually, the people adopted me as one of them in Bastar and Awesh is very happy to take me around because of my love for his region and culture. I think his prices are higher than Shakeel’s prices but their knowledge and offer are different. Awesh knows a lot of people in different tribal villages as he works with them since a very long time.
About transportation, during my first trip I always took the local transportations alone except in Jagdalpur. The last time, I was often with Shakeel, Awesh and some local reporters friends that took me around each time they left Jagdalpur.
You can contact Shakeel and Awesh to get some information about the festivals and check what they can propose you.
They will answer without any hesitation and there’s no obligation to use their service.
Other places to visit for a long stay in Bastar
“I certainly won’t go to Sirpur because I have visited a lot of similar places in India.
The idea to stay with locals (Shakeel) is great. I’ll certainly contact him.
Actually, the time I’ll spend in Bastar will depend on my feelings when I’ll be there.
I have one free month before going to Arunachal Pradesh. Bastar will be a digression, that will certainly be a beautiful discovery.”
If your stay is longer in Bastar, there’s another possibility before Bastar : Sirpur temples (they have a big historical importance and HH Dalai Lama said he found there the essence of Buddhism) + Barnawapara reserve.
Not only fauna and flora are interesting there, but it’s also very rich in history.
There’s Valmiki’s ashram there (the writer of Ramayana). It’s also there that Luv and Kutch, Rama’s sons, would be born. This area, including Bastar, would be the place of Rama’s exile.
Above Valmiki’s ashram, there’s a Hindu / tribal temple. People celebrate tribal festivals there. All the villages around Sirpur and Barnawapara are inhabited by the tribes.
Sirpur area is also very different from what we can expect : it’s a little village in the middle of nowhere with a big archaeological and tribal area. The roads are like lanes across the forests. It’s a great preserved area.
Then, before going to Jagdalpur, I would visit Ramnamis villages. Ramnamis are tribal people who tattoo their whole body with the name of their God, Ram. I would ask Awesh Ali to come (it’s possible to meet him directly in this area, then going to Jagdalpur together).
As a resume, you can contact
– Awesh Ali for Ramnamis, and eventually Bastar villages : Awesh Ali
– Shakeel Rizvi to stay with him in Nangoor + guide : Facebook Shakeel Rizvi or firstname.lastname@example.org
The itinerary I proposed for Tribal Chhattisgarh
“You convinced me to visit Sirpur, but maybe I’ll go at the end of my trip before going to Northern India.”
In this case, I would go directly from Raipur to Jagdalpur, eventually with a stop in Kanker.
After Bastar, I’d go to Jamgahan or Gorba (the place he will choose actually) with Awesh to visit Ramnamis. I would ask him to drop me in Barnawapara on his return way to Jagdalpur. After the reserve, I’d visit Sirpur, then I’d reach Raipur for the connections to the North.
But there’s a big risk to fall in love with Bastar and not be able to leave it!
The main places to visit - proposed stop over
Without considering what Marc asked me, this is the places I would recommend for a 3 weeks / one month trip around Tribal Chhattisgarh.
You will notice I added some places I didn’t talk about in the article: Raigarh for the prehistoric caves and Tribal culture, Mainpat for the Tibetan village and landscapes, Ambikapur.
Check my Bastar itinerary for the suggested places around Jagdalpur.
There’s two convenient points of entry / exit: Raipur and Ambikapur.
It's your turn now
Through my answer to Marc, I gave you a lot of advice to discover Tribal Chhattisgarh the best way.
Of course, they are plenty other places to discover in the state.
Do you also know Chhattisgarh ? Do you have some tips and tricks to share ?
If you have some other questions about this area of India or another country I know, you can contact me through the contact form below.
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Stephanie Langlet is called Indie, the female Indiana Jones by her French readers.
She helps the travellers to feel comfortable outside of their comfort zone and to travel closer to the people and culture (read the testimonials).
She is a Trip Planner and a Hospitality and Management Consultant.
Fond of the Tribes and Minorities, she’s specialised since 2012 in the tribes and festivals of Central India and have collaborated with Chhattisgarh Tourism Board to promote it. She’s often interviewed by the Indian medias.
In 2015, she was recognised as one of the Top 6 foreign bloggers about India by Holidify, and as an influencer for Chhattisgarh by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board.
She also runs her own guesthouse in the south-west of France, from May to October.
From November to April, she will be in India to work on a social guesthouses project with her Indian associates.